If there is any Sabzi besides capsicum that you will find stocked in my refrigerator at home, it is surely eggplants or baingan or Kathrikai / aubergine. So much so, that I love buying all types of aubergines, the green ones, the long purple ones, the small ones that can be stuffed into masalas and made into the Bharwan Baingan or stuffed baingan masala in Maharashtrian style aka Bharleli Vangi.
And one sabzi / veg from the North Indian cuisine that surely is one of my eternal favourites, is the Baingan Bharta. Some of the reasons I love this sabzi are – the smoky flavor of the aubergine, I can make this vegetable in less oil unlike the dhaba kinds wherein you see a layer of oil on top that makes you dread the rounds in the park it would take to wash away its sins and lastly, it goes well with anything from rice to flatbreads like rotis, parathas or even toasted & buttered bread for that matter.
This dish originated from Punjab, India. However, it is made and consumed all over India in different ways like in Bihar, they have Baingan ka chokha which is just the smoked and mashed aubergines with raw ingredients like onions, coriander and some lime juice along with chopped green chillies that is eaten with littis. Bengalis have their version too, I believe, but I have not tried it yet. In the Middle East, you have Baba Ghanoush which is smoked eggplant with some tahini paste and olive oil that is usually served with some pita bread and hummus.
You know something, I love cooking this vegetable slightly extra in quantity than I usually cook for the two of us. Reason is simple – this sabzi or vegetable tastes best the next day. I like to pair it with a dal rice or khichdi or even some bhakris. This humble dish doesn’t need a lot of work. Just roasting the eggplant and peeling the skin, chopping the cooked aubergine and then adding them to a mixture of onion-garlic-ginger-tomatoes along with a mix of spices and a dash of lemon juice. Or if you are allergic to lemons like me, skip them and just add loads of coriander leaves. Some desi salad or kachumber on the side would be just perfect.
Some people despise eating baingan bharta just like my husband who is not very fond of this vegetable but sometimes gives in when I make the puppy face. He prefers eating the South Indian version of Kathrikai curry or Gothsu (aubergines cooked with tamarind pulp plus spices which are usually paired with idlis or dosas in the absence of a sambar or chutney).
The whole write up must have surely given you plenty of ideas about what to cook with aubergines (especially the bharta ones – big and fat kinds) and I am sure if you are an aubergine fan just like me, you would start with this recipe for sure.
Check out the detailed recipe and don’t forget to read the recipe notes below that give you some whacky ideas to consume leftover baingan ka bharta. Go ahead, make a big batch!
Recipe for Baingan ka Bharta
Prep Time – 20 mins
Cook Time – 20 mins
Serves 3 to 4 nos.
- 1 Thick Big Eggplant
- Onions – 3 medium finely chopped
- Tomatoes – 2 medium finely chopped or pureed
- Garlic – 2-3 cloves finely chopped
- Ginger paste – 2 tsps.
- Green chillies – 2-3 nos. finely chopped or slit (optional)
- Red chilly powder – 1 tsp
- Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
- Garam Masala – 1 – 2 tsp
- Cumin seeds or Jeera – 1 tsp
- Oil – 2 tblsp
- Finely chopped Coriander leaves
- Salt as per taste
- Lemon juice (optional)
- Wash & pat dry the eggplant. Take a fork & punch few holes on the aubergine so that the heat travels inside and enables faster cooking.
- Now rub few drops of oil all over it and keep it over on the direct flame (medium heat) and keep turning it at regular intervals to obtain even cooking and good char.
- Once the eggplant is nicely charred, switch off the flame and keep the eggplant aside for resting in a bowl for around 5 minutes.
- Resting in a bowl than the board ensures the juices from the eggplant will collect in the bowl and it can be added to the gravy while cooking.
- Once the eggplants have slightly cooled, peel the skin (would be fairly easy) and mash the pulp or finely chop them.
- Heat a heavy bottom kadhai and add some oil. Then add cumin seeds and let them turn slightly brown before adding chopped garlic, ginger paste and finally the chopped onions.
- Let the onion-garlic-ginger mixture cook well on low heat until the onions are nicely brown in colour. Time to add the chopped tomatoes or puree (I prefer adding the latter).
- Let the mixture cook for atleast 5 minutes and then add the masalas like turmeric powder, red chilly powder, chopped green chillies (optional) and some salt.
- Stir the mixture well and allow it to cook until the raw smell of the onions and tomato vanishes and a thick gravy is formed.
- Add the mashed eggplants to the above gravy mixture along with its juice. Stir well, check for salt, add any if required. Add the garam masala powder and the roughly chopped or torn coriander leaves.
- Cook this mixture with a lid on for atleast 5-10 mins on a very low heat so that the eggplant marries the masalas well.
- Switch off the flame. Squeeze the lime juice (optional) and serve it hot with some Rotis / Phulkas / Parathas / Jeera Rice & some dal.
Recipe Notes (as promised above – some whacky ideas to consume leftover Baingan ka Bharta)
- Smear some left over bharta over sliced baguettes and then sprinkle few drops of olive oil and some grated cheese (just a tsp), grill it for 5 minutes and you will have the desi bruschettas ready.
- Bombay Sandwich with Baingan ka Bharta – Smear a layer of baingan ka bharta over the buttered and chutney laden slices of bread, add sliced boiled beetroots, tomatoes, cucumber and some cheese (optional). Grill it, slice it and serve it piping hot. You won’t miss the potato masala.
- Make left over baingan ka bharta parathas by adding boiled and mashed potatoes along with some chaat masala or amchur powder, chopped coriander leaves etc.
- Coming back to the recipe, this is my version of Baingan ka Bharta and hence I have not added a lot of masalas like coriander powder, jeera or cumin powder along with some amchur powder etc. You may choose to add them. I, personally, don’t like to overpower the flavor of the smoked aubergines with loads of masalas.
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